Liz Lochhead – a poet, artist, translator and performer – was appointed as the new Scottish makar (national poet) in 2011. A graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, Liz started writing poetry as a student and won a Radio Scotland poetry competition in 1971; her first collection of poetry, Memo for Spring, was published in 1972. Early successes, including the award of the first Scottish/Canadian Writers’ Exchange Fellowship, were followed with the development of notable works for theatre (including Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off) which deploy the richness and energy of the Scots language. She is a popular performer, and her influence on Scottish poetry has been instrumental in creating a space for an authentically female voice in contemporary writing.
Louise Welsh is an award-winning thriller writer, librettist, playwright and radio presenter. Her debut novel, The Cutting Room, was nominated for the 2003 Orange Prize for Fiction and went on to win the Crime Writers’ Association Creasey Dagger for the best first crime novel. Louise recently completed an 15-month residency at The University of Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art, and her latest novel, The Girl on the Stairs, was published at the end of 2012. Her work with composer Stuart McRae includes Ghost Patrol, a taught, tense opera dealing with jealousy, hidden secrets and relationships forged during war.
William Letford works as a roofer. He also has an M.Litt in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow. William was the recipient of a New Writer’s Award from the Scottish Book Trust and an Edwin Morgan Travel Bursary which allowed him to spend three months in the mountains of northern Italy in 2008, helping to restore a medieval village. His first collection, Bevel, was published by Carcanet Press in 2012.
Janet Paisley is an award-winning poet, author, playwright and non-fiction writer, and BAFTA-nominated scriptwriter; she writes in Scots and English and her work is widely translated internationally. A theatre production of The Lasses O, Janet’s play for voices relating the life of Robert Burns, was a sell-out during the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe. Janet was member of the working party for a Scottish National Theatre and is a member of the Cross Parliamentary Group for the Scots Language.
Go to Janet Paisley’s website to find more on her writing, including her historical novels and collections of poetry.
Padraig has lived in Belfast for ten years, where he has been involved in peace and reconciliation work within the faith and education sectors. He has a deep interest in the role of religion in peace and conflict, and has worked and spoken on the interplay of religion and dialogue in Ireland, the UK, the Middle East and South Africa. Padraig is the fieldworker for the Faith in Positive Relations activities of the Irish Peace Centres, which has included facilitating discussion between faith leaders and practitioners and LGBT advocates. A published poet and essayist, he has written poetry on themes of storytelling and peace for many years.
Padraig is back at Solas by popular demand – watch an interview with him and dancer Nic Gareiss recorded just after their special collaboration at last year’s festival.
Reigning World Slam Poetry Champion Harry Baker returns to Solas, where he’s built quite a cult following. Harry’s comedic stand-up poetry – covering everything from dinosaurs to prime numbers, with plenty of self-deprecating tales thrown in along the way – is delivered with a deft touch and a good deal of charm.